This year, for my birthday, we decided to go out for dinner, separately from our night seeing Blue Man Group. I selected Bob Chinns Crab House in Wheeling, Illinois. Around 13-14 years ago, I was working near there and went to lunch there fairly often. I also remembered a
MEMORABLE anniversary dinner there, so I figured that it was time to go back.
Back then, it was my wife and I. My son was a toddler and spent the night with Nonna (Grandma). This time, Nonna had been sainted and my much older son brought his girlfriend. Fair enough.
Some things were similar to my memories:
Lots of Seafood Choices Heavy on the Kona (Hawaiian) Crab and crab legs, but there was some antarctic prawns, Lobster and others, plus seafood gumbo and chowder. There were some meat choices and surf and turf combinations.
Garlic bread dripping with butter - bad for my weight watchers thing, but, hey, Garlic gets rid of evil spirits (especially out of my cubicle after lunch but that didn't apply here).
Casual, trying for a fun ambiance
Others had changed, or at least my attitude toward them:
Prices on the high side Ill talk about the food further on, but my son and his friend shared one crab legs order. It was large and good, but not worth the $35 charged. My wife had surf and turf for $24.95, with crab legs and a strip steak, and that seemed fair. I had the antarctic prawns,stir-fried for $24.95, and I felt like it was not really worth the money.
Service The waitress was trying and we werent the easiest group, changing our order after it went in. However, she had difficulty grasping the concept of a Pina Colada without the alcohol. She went back to the bar and finally suggested guava juice. Someone else came who
was more familiar with the bar and he had no problem filling that order for my son and his friend.
Rushed to completion That didnt bother me so much years ago and during lunch, its appropriate. It just seemed rushed and the tables and aisles were cramped, too.
So, on to the food.
The seafood gumbo was hot, spicy and had lots of fish. Very good, but no better than can be had at Dons Fishmarket, a restaurant in Skokie, with lower prices. My wifes surf and turf was tasty and done to specification. She enjoyed it. However, her comment was its not much better than at Red Lobster and it costs a lot more. As I said, I had the antarctic prawns,
stir fried. The prawns were good shrimp. But they were not exceptional. Maybe Im not a gourmet, but I couldnt tell the difference between these and typical fresh shrimp. The stir fried veggies were fresh but there was too much sauce and it obscured the seafood flavor. My son and his friend enjoyed the crab legs, but the comment, again was that its not that much better than at Red Lobster. The food might have been a little better than at the chain, Joes Crab Shack which Ive previously reviewed, but the ambiance there was hip, fun and great and we as a family had a better time.
The total tap with tip was about $125 and that was for 3 entrees, only 1 appetizer, no alcohol and no dessert.
Compared to 13 years ago, more money for food thats a bit better than average. Barely adequate service; rushed, cramped ambiance. The memory was better. I wasn't able to go "back" again.
My trusted epinions colleague, Buffoonery, has said that you can get much better seafood for just a little more money. Im here to tell you that you can get food thats as good for considerably less money at other places, icluding the trendy Davis Street Fishmarket.
So why am I recommending it? Its a Chicago institution and worth going to once. Check out the early bird specials (4:30 to 6) or go at lunch, when there is a menu with lower prices. However, if you want to REALLY enjoy seafood, you can try the more expensive places or you can enjoy similar quality seafood and better ambiance at lower prices at The Davis Street Fishmarket, Red Lobster or Dons Fishmarket.
Thanks for reading. God bless!
You might enjoy some of my Chicago area restaurant reviews.
Millenium Park Grill
Davis Street Fishmarket
Hackneys Restaurant in Glenview
Twin Anchors Restaurant in Chicago
Pavilion Restaurant in Chicago
Szechuan East Restaurant in Chicago
Maggianos Little Italy
and some of my beer reviews
Bells 20th Anniversary Ale
Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
Goose Island Demolition
Point Special Beer
Sam Adams 2005 Imperial Pilsner
If you like mainstream and fusion jazz, check out my web site, www.jazzobsession.com. Youll find information on my newly-released CD, The Power of Two by John Temmerman's Jazz Obsession Quartet. It is available through Amazon.com and www.cdbaby.com. I have a special discount available on sales through my web site. Come on by!
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Kid Friendliness: Yes
Vegetarian Friendly: No
Notes, Tips or Menu Recommendations seafood gumbo, crab legs
Best Suited For: Business